Now That I’m 40: A Manifesto

Last Tuesday (June 13), I turned 40. It was a magical day, full of Harry Potter and Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley and so much nerding out I could barely contain myself.

Now that I’m back to reality, I’m realizing something. I’m about halfway done with my life. If I’m lucky, I’ve got more than half of it left, but still. Halfway there.

I remember being in my late teens and early twenties, and imagining that by 40 I’d be known globally for all I’d done to change the world. And while the passion to make change is still there, the “globally known” part isn’t. And I’m not sure I’m sad about that, either. I can’t imagine what life would be like with that amount of infamy!!

However. As I look at what I’ve done to make the world a better place, I’m realizing there is so much that I’ve left undone, mostly due to laziness and selfishness. It is far easier to soothe my sadness and frustration with shopping and eating crappy food and watching too much television. I have grown comfortable with being less than I know I can be.

With 40 years under my belt, I’ve decided it’s time for a change. Several changes, actually. I am giving my life singular purpose, under the umbrella THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS OTHER PEOPLE’S CHILDREN. I am going to focus my life with laser-like aim on this. Everything I do will be for the better of the littles – mine, those I know and love, and the millions of children around the globe. In order to do this, I will be altering the way I do life in a few ways.

First, I am becoming a minimalist. Yes, I have a family, and no, I will not be forcing them to follow along. For me, shopping is too easy. I actually probably have a serious problem. So I’m just going to stop. I’m not bringing anything new into my home that’s not necessary, and I’m going to go through what I already have and get rid of what isn’t useful and/or doesn’t bring me joy. I have no idea how long this will take me, considering how much crap I actually have. Where there are gaps? I will just let there be gaps for awhile. In truth, there are no actual gaps, only perceived ones. I have more than enough of everything I could ever need or want.

Second, I’m going through and adjusting the cost of my hat patterns, and will work like mad to get the dozens of unpublished patterns I’ve made notes for out into the world. My patterns will all cost $3 … even the previously free ones, with a select few exceptions. EVERY PENNY I earn on these pattern sales will be donated to build schools through Pencils of Promise. If I truly believe “there is no such thing as other people’s children” then I must begin to live as such. Third, I will not be buying books until I have read every book I own (or gotten rid of it because I never plan to read it). I have almost 700 books at school, many of which I have never read, and about 4 dozen more at home. I have already begun to build a pile of books I know I will never read, or read again, and will be taking those to Half Price Books to sell. All of my classroom books will become my reading material for the foreseeable future. The only exception to this book buying rule will be Golden Sower books each summer.

Fourth, I will not be buying yarn until I have knit or crocheted through every skein I own. I have a room over-full with yarn, and while I may need to get some grey yarn to help me use up bits leftover, I will not be doing that until every full skein of yarn has been used to the smallest degree it can be! Most of the yarn is arylic, and can be used easily for donation hats for homeless folks and oncology wards. I will use the smaller bits for newborn hats, and all the wool yarn will be made into useful items for refugees.

As I use the yarn, I will be writing patterns anytime I make a new design up, and adding the patterns to my Ravelry shop. I will use all the money from pattern sales to fund schools through POP, and will STOP SELLING HATS. All hats will be donated.

This is just a start. I’m excited to see where my new mantra will take me in the next 40 years. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS OTHER PEOPLE’S CHILDREN will become my rally cry, it will become my focus and my calling card. It will be the thing that will shape my life and all that I do. Thank goodness I’m already a teacher, so I don’t have to go back to school, too!!

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